Wales

More than £500,000 paid to Cardiff 'fraud' college

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More than £500,000 in tuition fees, loans and grants has been awarded to a private college at the centre of a fraud investigation and to students enrolled there.

It follows a BBC Wales investigation focusing on the West London Vocational Training College in Cardiff.

A Week In Week Out undercover reporter using fake qualifications was offered a loan to study there.

The college said its students were all genuine, as far as it was concerned.

A recruiter was secretly filmed at the college telling potential students they could cheat coursework and lie about their qualifications to obtain a publicly-funded loan.

The college's owner, Bharat Bageja, has denied knowing of any wrongdoing in the recruitment of students.

The Welsh government has declined to comment while investigations are ongoing

Figures obtained by BBC Wales News via the Freedom of Information Act reveal tuition fees totalling £175,500 had been paid to the college by the end of November last year.

Grants and loans for living costs amounting to £327,215 had been paid to students enrolled at the college, the Welsh government figures revealed.

All payments to the college and its students were suspended on 27 November pending an investigation by South Wales Police into an alleged grant funding fraud at the college. Three people have been questioned.

The Student Loans Company confirmed a number of students had withdrawn from studies at the Cardiff campus since payments were suspended.

Nearly £4,000 in maintenance loans and grants have been repaid by students of the Cardiff campus since the end of November, they said.

However there has been no repayment of any tuition fees.

Concerns over the regulation of private colleges were raised by an assembly committee in October 2014.

Announcing the suspension of payments to the college last November, Education Minister Huw Lewis said checks and balances were in place but no regulation system could be "100 per cent proof" against fraud.

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